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Situation normal: Andrews Labor Government confused over its policies

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The Liberal Nationals support greyhound racing in Victoria and we believe this code of practice looks like overreach by the Andrews Labor Government and a banning by stealth.

If the Andrews Labor Government wants to ban greyhound racing they should just say so instead of this mealy-mouthed attempt.

Today in Question Time, Minister Jaala Pulford was asked basic questions about compliance and associated costs of their proposed code of conduct but she wouldn’t or couldn’t provide any detail.

Most Victorians want an industry that cares for greyhounds while providing employment opportunities and a popular recreational activity for so many.

Those in the industry caught doing the wrong thing should not only be banned from the industry but also receive a punitive punishment that makes an example of them to others who ever contemplate doing the wrong thing.

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Labor sparks Heyfield mill fire sale

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford still refuses to admit the Labor Government’s offer to buy the Heyfield mill is just smoke and mirrors.

In Parliament today, Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath asked the Minister why the Andrews Labor Government failed to make a commercially realistic offer to the mill that would secure the 260 local jobs.

But Ms Pulford failed to provide an answer, even refusing to answer simple questions about why she has been removed from the negotiations.

Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has confirmed the mill would wind down its operations from August due to “expected short supply of logs to the mill again this year” meaning 50 jobs would be lost a month earlier than initially thought.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford continually fail to provide Heyfield mill workers with any confidence Labor will fight for their jobs.

The Premier seems to be forcing a fire sale of the Heyfield mill after Labor’s changed timber policy undermined the business’ viability.

The Premier is putting possums before the jobs of 260 people and the wider Heyfield community.

Labor’s desperate attempt to secure greens preferences and create the Great Forest National Park by stealth has left the future of the Heyfield mill and Victoria’s forestry industry in jeopardy.

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Rising drug offences in Victorian schools

Monday 19 June 2017

Police are investigating an increasing number of drug offences on school grounds.

Reports today show that 166 drug offences were investigated in 2016, an increase from 139 in 2014. Since January 2014, more than 450 drug offences on school grounds have been investigated.

Drug addiction is destroying lives and families, but under the Andrews Labor Government anyone wanting to beat addiction will wait up to a year for rehabilitation support.

Daniel Andrews has not opened a single additional public rehabilitation bed since he was elected in 2014.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy

It’s clear Daniel Andrews has lost control when hundreds of school kids have been charged with serious drug offences.

It’s shocking that as lives and families are being ruined by drug addiction, we’ve still got Daniel Andrews’ own Labor MPs arguing for drug injecting rooms in our suburbs.

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Heyfield mill closure to begin early

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has announced today it will close its Heyfield mill earlier than planned.

ASH confirmed today the mill will wind down from August due to “VicForests expected short supply of logs to the mill again this year”.

At a recent hearing for the parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the amount of timber available to industry has dropped by nearly 60,000m3 due to confirmed possum sightings and projected future sightings.

Mr Trushell also said the possum was being discovered at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.

There are 260 people employed at the Heyfield mill, while the mill’s operations support 7000 jobs down the line.

Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy and Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull visited the Heyfield mill again today to speak with ASH.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy

The Liberal-Nationals understand the importance of this business to the Heyfield community and committed in February that an elected Liberal-Nationals government would keep the mill open and save these jobs.

Daniel Andrews' promise to fight for every Victorian job was clearly a lie. The Andrews government has presided over thousands of lost Gippsland jobs with no remorse for their failure to step in and save them.

Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh

The Heyfield community and Victoria’s forestry industry have endured increasingly difficult conditions under a Labor Government more concerned with protecting possums than Victorian jobs.

The Premier for Melbourne is so desperate to keep his own job and the greens preferences that got him there that he is condemning 260 jobs in the Heyfield community.

Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull

The closure of the Heyfield mill is devastating news for the workers, their families and the Heyfield community.

Daniel Andrews promised to visit Heyfield in February, but more than three months later he still refuses to show any support for our community.

The Premier for Melbourne fails to understand the mill doesn’t need a new owner to save these jobs, it needs a change in government policy.

Media releases Agriculture Environment

Questions over Labor’s late wild dog committee

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Serious questions are being asked after the Andrews Labor Government appointed a critic of wild dog control programs to the long awaited Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee.

The advisory committee has finally been announced today, nearly two years since Labor sacked a very effective committee which included experienced landholders, and nearly six months after applications closed.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh:

Wild dog numbers have increased since 2015 after the Andrews Government missed aerial baiting opportunities, axed the Wild Dog Bounty for 12 months, and sacked the previous advisory committee without warning.

It beggars belief that Minister Pulford left high country communities that fight the scourge of wild dogs daily without an avenue to give advice on the control program for nearly two years.

While Minister Pulford has given in to pressure from farmers and finally replaced the committee, it’s disappointing that there are less landholder representatives, there are no women, and one of the members has previously criticised wild dog control measures and reportedly described farmers “extremists”.

Wild dogs are a massive daily challenge for farmers and communities in the North East and far East Gippsland but city-centric Labor are doing nothing to restore landholders’ confidence in Victoria’s wild dog control program.

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Drug crime rising under Labor

Friday 9 June 2017

Daniel Andrews’ Ice Action plan is a $184 million dud.  Lots of money is being spent but it’s not making a dent in the numbers of people and their families that are being destroyed by this insidious drug.

It’s not just the lives that are being ruined, it’s the side effects like violent crime and aggravated burglaries which is impacting on tens of thousands of Victorians. 

Despite these problems we still have members of the Andrews Labor Government arguing for drug injecting rooms in our suburbs.

We need to provide better help for those who want to beat their addiction. 

At the moment those wanting to beat their addictions face waits of up to a year for rehabilitation support because Daniel Andrews is spending the money from the Ice Action Plan on glossy brochures and bureaucratic talkfests.      

The Liberal Nationals believe that we need tougher sentences for drug traffickers, a more effective rehabilitation system and better awareness campaigns for young people and the community.

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Labor can’t rescue its failed TAFE ‘rescue’

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Background

The Andrews Labor Government is scrambling to cover up its failed TAFE ‘rescue’, spending almost half a billion dollars to keep Victoria’s TAFEs afloat.

A Victorian Auditor-General’s annual Audit Snapshot, released today, shows Victoria’s training system is shrinking and becoming more reliant on State Government grants.

It found:

“The improvement in revenue in 2015 and 2016 has been driven by additional government grant funding, rather than growth in revenue. Student numbers continued to fall, and all other sources of revenue such as student fees and contestable funding declined in 2015 and 2016” (VAGO report, p17).

The report revealed Labor has handed out $490 million in grants to TAFEs in the past two years, but student numbers and training quality have worsened.

The Auditor-General flagged concerns that TAFEs had reduced “financial flexibility” with falling student numbers and income revenue.

The report also found the course funding provided by the Andrews Government was not sufficient to meet staff costs of most TAFEs.

Comments from Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan

Student numbers are plummeting, but Daniel Andrews and Gayle Tierney are still trying to tell Victorians their TAFE ‘rescue’ has been a success.

TAFE is weaker, not stronger, under Labor, to a point where they now rely more on State Government bailouts, than their own revenue, to stay afloat.

It’s clear Daniel Andrews’ TAFE ‘rescue’ has been a complete failure.

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Labor refuses to save forestry jobs

Thursday 1 June 2017

Background

The Andrews Labor Government could save thousands of forestry jobs in Victoria by reducing the size of ‘highly precautionary’ timber harvest exclusion zones.

At a parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the Leadbeater’s Possum was being detected at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.

Mr Trushell also described the current 200m buffer zones as “highly precautionary and having a significant impact on industry”.

At May 18 this year, 617 Leadbeater’s Possum colonies had been recorded and an estimated 1851 individual possums found.

Mr Trushell also confirmed the amount of timber available to industry had dropped by nearly 60,000m3 because of possum sightings and projected sightings in the future.

The Andrews Labor Government is months overdue with a required review of the exclusion zones.

At a Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford showed an embarrassing lack of understanding of her portfolio and had to refer to Department staff when questioned if she had seen the exclusion zone review.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews has created this crisis in our forestry industry and is trying to force a fire sale of Heyfield’s mill instead of saving jobs and reducing the size of the exclusion zones.

Demand has never been higher for Victoria’s high-quality timber products but Daniel Andrews has put the industry in peril.

The 200m buffer zones were put in place at a time when Leadbeater’s possum numbers were unknown and they were supposed to be reviewed once 200 colonies were found but Daniel Andrews looks hell bent on creating the Great Forest National Park by stealth instead.

Daniel Andrews is sacrificing timber workers and their livelihoods because he is desperate to cling to power and needs city greens preferences next election.

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Taxes up 20%, but no guarantee of a return

Wednesday 31 May 2017

Taxes up 20%, but no guarantee of a return

Housing Minister Martin Foley has failed to answer basic questions on his portfolio at a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) appearance today.

Asked about the Andrews Labor Government’s new Vacant Residential Property Tax, the Minister bumbled through a response that revealed a staggering lack of understanding on what this new tax will mean for Victorians.

The Minister has been happy to tout the benefits of this new tax for homelessness and housing affordability, but he can’t say if this new tax will actually do what Labor promised and add properties to the rental market.

It’s clear the Andrews Labor Government expects Victorians to pay more in tax without any guarantee they’ll get a return.

Mr Foley was also unable to answer any basic questions on the transfer of 4000 public housing residences to community housing.

The Minister couldn’t say how the Government planned to consult with affected tenants or guarantee community housing associations wouldn’t be handed poor quality housing stock they’ll soon have to pay to be repaired.

Either the Minister isn’t across the detail of his own portfolio or the detail doesn’t exist.

Media releases Education and Skills Community Services

Labor refuses to release Fed Training details

Thursday 18 May 2017

Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney refused to provide basic information about Federation Training during a budget estimates hearing yesterday. 

Opposition MPs walked out of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) in disgust after the Labor chair tried to rule a question about Federation Training's student numbers, staffing and finances out of order. 

Ms Tierney told the committee that she would not provide the information because it was "commercially sensitive", despite other TAFEs around the state publishing the same information in their annual reports. 

Labor's cover up comes after Federation Training failed for the second year in a row to publish its annual report, with no reports provided to Parliament for 2015 or 2016, putting it in breach of the Financial Management Act

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan

Labor is trying to hide the dire state of Federation Training by claiming data published by other TAFEs is suddenly commercially sensitive.  

It's no wonder Gayle Tierney and Harriet Shing don't want this information published when Federation Training has cut staff, courses and student support services. 

More than 123,000 students have disappeared from Victoria's training since Daniel Andrews became Premier and students now have less chance of finding a job.

Quotes attributable to The Nationals Member for Morwell Russell Northe

Labor has walked away from Federation Training when the Latrobe Valley has never needed it more. 

Under questioning in Parliament and at committee hearings, Gayle Tierney was incapable of answering even basic questions about Federation Training's finances and student numbers.